OPERATION PEER SUPPORT PROGRAM
TOGETHER WE CAN!
Operation Peer Support (OPS) is a program that was designed by the Blinded Veterans Association to support the hundreds of men and women that were returning to the United States blinded or experiencing significant visual impairment in connection with their service fighting the Global War on Terror, Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF). However, over the years our program has widened its participation to all eras of visually impaired veterans. These events have significantly impacted many veterans’ lives by assisting them with accomplishing and overcoming challenges thru rehabilitation.
OPERATION PEER SUPPORT COMMITTEE
MONACA GILMORE, CHAIRMAN
CALENDAR OF EVENTS
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT
MONACA GILMORE, OPS CHAIRMAN @ (252) 822-3486
15 – 19 NOVEMBER 2019
HEROES NEW HOPE DEER HUNTiING TRIP
22 – 26 JANUARY 2020,
TEAM RIVER RUNNER KEY LARGO KAYAKING CLINIC
PARTICIPANT OF THE MONTH MARLENE DAVIS-LILLY
Marlene Davis- Lilly served in the United States Navy as an Aviation Boatswains Mate and was stationed at Naval Air Station Sigonella Sicily. Marlene leads a kayak team in Little Rock Arkansas and is married with two children and three grandchildren. Mrs. Davis-Lilly has served as a police officer and a mental health social worker. Currently, Mrs. Davis-Lilly is the Vice President of the BVA’s Arkansas Regional Group. She is an accredited Veteran Service Officer that assists veterans with their claim process and a member of volunteer services of her local VAMC. Through the Operation Peer Support Program Marlene has participated in Congressional Advocacy, the first all-female Appalachian Trail Hike, and volunteers/donates. The Operation Peer Support Program has taught Marlene that she can overcome many life challenges especially with the support of fellow members of the Blinded Veteran Association.
STORIES OF PAST EVENTS
2019 MAJOR ROB SOLTES GOLF TOURNAMENT
Along with our National BVA President, Dr. Thomas Zampieri were BVA members Brian Harris and Adam Rowland to participate in this years Major Rob Soltes Golf Tournament. This annual fundraising event for the BVA’s Operation Peer Support Program gave these blinded veterans the opportunity to memorialize Major Rob Soltes optometry efforts for the veterans and to promote the awareness of the Blinded Veterans Association. With continuous support from BVA’s volunteer Tom Clark another successful year of funding was raised for the Operation Peer Support Program in order to further assist blinded veterans of the BVA.
2019 BAT II APPALACHIAN TRAIL MARCH
With major support from the U.S. Army Mountain Ranger Association members of the Blinded Veterans Association hiked over 80 miles of the North Carolina Appalachian Trail. BVA participants consisted of the following: Daniel Wallace, Lonnie Bedwell, and Ken Horn. During this event the veterans hiked over 12 miles a day, camped out overnight, and survived off rations of food similar to sustainment as an Army Ranger. Joe Amerling, BVA Honorary Member, along with BVA member Ken Horn established support and obtained sponsorship for this event. The participants accomplished the mission, impacted many veterans lives to keep striving through rehabilitation with vision loss, and brought awareness to the Blinded Veterans Association.
Four BVA members and sighted guide had the opportunity to collaborate with our BVUK veterans during Project Gemini Birmingham, AL. Participants for this event were Marlene Davis-Lilly, Raquel Welch, Adrian Mohammed, and Lonnie Bedwell. During this exchange program participants learned coping mechanisms from one dealing with vision loss, the resources for the visually impaired through Department of Veteran Affairs, and engaged in adaptive sports at the Lakeshore Foundation. Additionally, the veterans had the opportunity to tour local attractions such as the following: Birmingham Civil Rights Museum, Southern Museum of Flight, Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind, and Eyesight Foundation of Alabama/Callahan Eye Foundation at UAB. This event was fortunate to have many sponsors for meals and we were very appreciative for BVA’s Honorary Member, Joe Amerling, for obtaining a donation from the Southern Veterinarian Partners towards the Operation Peer Support Program.